‘Palestinian’ Women Resist Israeli ‘Occupation’ in Fake Academia
This is Part I of a three-part series critiquing a single article that uses ‘analysis’ of women’s ‘resistance’ as a vehicle by means of which to vilify Israel.
The article is called Middle Eastern Women between Oppression and Resistance: Case Studies of Iraqi, Palestinian and Kurdish Women of Turkey; it was written by Khodary, Salah and Mohsen of Egypt. and was published in the Journal of International Women’s Studies in February 2020. The one good thing I can say about this is that the journal is ranked in only the third quartile and comes 68th out of 131 journals specializing in gender studies. Still, you can be sure that it will be cited in future studies and therein lies its danger.
The article begins by stating the obvious, that war and hostilities affect women negatively. They claim that in some countries life expectancy has gone down since the Arab Spring. This is not surprising, in fact, because violent uprisings lead to the deaths of many people. They cannot make a similar claim for the Arabs in the Palestinian Authority (PA), however, because life expectancy has been increasing steadily over they years, so they have this to say:
The intersectionality and interplay between gender and other identities also intensified the impact wars and conflict had on particular women groups, such as the female Arab population in Israel and the Kurdish women of Turkey, compared to the rest of the population (Na’amnih et al. 2010). (page 204)
Aside from the fact that Khodary et al‘s article is supposed to be about women in the PA and not in Israel, this may sound profound to some. However, when you turn to the paper cited here as support for this statement, you find that it is about the gap in life expectancy between Arabs and Jews in Israel and nothing else (and certainly no mention of Kurdish women or Turkey). Na’amnih et al do not talk at all about intersectionality, nor about war and conflict. All they say is that the gap between Jewish and Arab life expectancy for both men and women decreased between 1975 and 1998 because of improved infant survival rates but that it increased somewhat between 1998-2004; the difference in 2004 was 3.2 years for men and 4 years for women. This time it was mostly related to health problems in those over 65 years of age and issues of smoking, obesity, medical compliance, genetic predisposition and accessibility to health care; none of these were related to the issues addressed by Khodary and her colleagues. But what the heck! It looks good to have a source for claims in academic papers and of course nobody expects the reviewers to actually open up the source citations.
The Na’amnih et al paper was cited by 44 other studies and we can only hope they used the source material properly.
Who Were Their Research Respondants?
The authors interviewed six individuals: four Iraqi women, a ‘Palestinian’ woman, Abla al-Dajani, and Mohamed Gomaa’, a man they say is an expert in Kurdish affairs. Al-Dajani and Gomaa’ were interviewed in Cairo and the Iraqi women gave web-based interviews, whatever that means. Interestingly, of the six, I was able to find information online for only two of the Iraqi women. According to their job titles in the article, two of the four Iraqis work in government and two in NGOs.
I tried unsuccessfully to find information about al-Dajani. The authors say that she is the head of the General Union of Palestinian Women, but the website for that organization is only in Arabic; therefore, I could not check that out. No job title is given for Gomaa’.
I am not sure how this sample passed the scrutiny of the reviewers. Having four respondants for one ethnic group yet only one interviewee for each of the other two (one of whom is male) does not seem to fit the criteria for a solid piece of research. And with two of the interviewees working in government in a country in which women (and men) are oppressed seems to make what they say suspect. How free are they to talk when their identities are open to all who read this paper? In spite of these limitations, the authors write with a tone of great authority and do not raise the possibility that the information gleaned from their interviewees may be partial, biased or inaccurate. Lack of a statement pointing out limitations to the research results is not generally acceptable in an academic paper.
I will not concern myself further with what this paper says about Iraqi and Kurdish women but, rather, leave that to those who know about these groups.
So, What about ‘Palestinian’ Women?
In a footnote, the authors write:
For decades, Iraqi women were exposed to regional and international wars in addition to state oppression, whereas Palestinian women continues to endure daily and systemic oppression from the Israeli occupation and Kurdish women are exposed to external repression from the Turkish government. [emphasis added] (page 205)
How everyone loves to claim that ‘Palestinians’ are tormented every day by the ‘Israeli occupation’! It seems nobody needs to provide proof of this for this to be an acceptable statement in academic papers.
This is supplemented with another oft-repeated falsehood:
… Israeli military occupation of ‘all of historical Palestine in 1967’ provoked violent resistance … (Tripp, 2013). (page 207)
Khodary and her colleagues never mention the fact that “all of historical Palestine” is used by ‘Palestinians’ and their supporters, including Tripp apparently, to mean all of Israel plus Gaza and Judea-Samaria (what King Hussein called the West Bank at the start of the Jordanian occupation). Of course, they also fail to mention that originally 70% of ‘Palestine’ was comprised of what is now Jordan, but I doubt anyone intends “Free Free Palestine” to include taking over Jordan as well as Israel, at least not yet. After all, there are no Jews living in Jordan.
In case you had any doubt, they begin their section on ‘Palestine’ with the following:
Public activism among Palestinian women dates back to the mid-twentieth century and the establishment of the Israeli state. (page 213)
There you have it! The ‘occupation’ began in 1948 and not 1967. And they want ‘back’ everything, including Tel Aviv and Haifa. Here it is so transparent that one can only believe that the reviewers and editorial staff of the journal agree with this. How else would it get by them?
The article proceeds to talk about the establishment of women’s organizations to help women become more educated and to engage in cottage industries to help support their families. This is an approach taken by many humanitarian aid organizations in poverty stricken regions around the world with good results. But:
In addition, they [the women] participated in throwing stones, burning tires, building road blocks, delivering social relief funds to the Palestinian families under curfew and replacing men, killed or under detention, in some formerly male-dominated occupations. [emphasis added] (page 213)
And then they complain about women being picked up by security forces and imprisoned!
From this point on, the article becomes truly vile. Like any good television serial, I am going to leave you at this cliffhanger and continue in another ‘episode’ so that you will be able to give it your full attention. For now, you have enough basics to see their bias.
Feature Image Credit: pixabay